Ask the expert: Nicola Croughan

Ask the expert: Nicola Croughan

Amy Kilvington

By Amy Kilvington

Content Writer at Blinds Direct
Thu 26 Mar 2020

Nicola is our fabulous fabric expert and personal shopper, running the free Personal Fabric Shopper service at Blinds Direct.

With 12 years’ experience and extensive knowledge of fabrics and interiors, Nicola is here help our customers pair their perfect products, coordinate with their existing decor and create a space they love. We want to tell you more about Nicola, her style, her interior design predictions, and her top tips for updating your home…

Hi Nic! First and foremost, how can you help customers with styling their homes?

I’m here to help bring the overall look of your space together, often by mixing different colours, patterns and products. I can advise on how to incorporate more colour and interest into your room to enhance your existing decor. I can also help you to visualise the space that you desire, and explain the best way to achieve this.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love the great feedback from helping our customers. It’s lovely to see how a simple change, such as a new blind, curtains or accessories, can enhance the look of a room. I also love sharing the wide range of options that we have here at Blind Direct.

What are the most popular fabrics and styles for window dressings nowadays?

There has been a real rise in popularity of textured fabrics, including sumptuous velvets. I’ve also noticed more use of bolder, brighter colour for window dressings and home accessories. Statement colours are really popular.

There is also a demand for more natural fabrics, such as linens and soft brushed cottons.

The clean lines of Roman blinds are always on trend, and with this in mind, curtains are also becoming more streamlined with the use of a wave header or a simple pinch pleat.  

Finally, voiles and sheer fabrics are really surging in popularity!

What are your predictions for interior design in future?

Our homes will become much more of a reflection of our personality. We will be even less afraid to mix styles, and contrasting looks will sit happily within our decor. Our homes will also become more multi-functional as our needs are continually changing.   

What challenges do people usually face when styling their homes?

Pulling together an overall look can be daunting. That’s why we need to look at what the room will be used for, who will use it and when it will be used. Is it a socialising space, or does it need to feel like a sanctuary? This will help to inform your decor. 

Styling and redecorating usually starts with a colour in mind, and then choosing furniture and flooring etc can follow. However, mixing colours can be challenging in itself. That’s where I can help!

Have you noticed any recent shifts in customers’ window dressing preferences?

I’m definitely seeing more bold colour mixes and vibrant patterns being chosen. Roman blinds and curtains are also getting more popular for adding a statement to a room.

What is the one design rule you live by?

My failsafe method is to make up a mood board with all my ideas together, and then look at it from a distance. This helps us to realise if the combinations of colours and patterns actually work together. When you look at a pattern up close, it rarely looks the same as it does from far away. So make sure you stand back and really notice the overall tone, print and feeling from a distance.

What’s your best interior design advice?

Think of something you really love when you’re starting to decorate. Then take inspiration from it when¬†choosing your colours, textures and shapes. For example, a piece of artwork or your favourite cushion. If your room is built around a theme that means a lot to you, you’ll love the final look for years to come. Remember, never be afraid to express yourself through your decor.

What are your favourite fabrics currently in stock at Blinds Direct?

Sonova Studio Kurven Retro: I love this colour mix and pattern. It’s such a great take on the current popularity of pinks and greens.

Edinburgh Weavers Burdock Forest: A fresh, watercolour pattern printed onto a natural linen fabric.

Studio G Acorn Trail: I love the intertwining simplicity of this pattern. It’s a playful take on nature and so easy to style.

Sonova Studio Skarva Retro: A striking mix of colours. I love the style and scale of this pattern from our own in-house collection.

Fryetts Malmo Multi: I love this vibrant colour mix, which is balanced perfectly within the pattern.

Find out more about Nicola and her free personal shopping service at Blinds Direct. If you want to get in touch, you can email Nicola at You can also call her or WhatApp your pictures to 07555191182 (lines open 8:30-4:30 Mon-Fri)

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